Langston Hughes

Cultural Exchange

In the Quarter of the Negroes Where the doors are doors of paper Dust of dingy atoms Blows a scratchy sound. Amorphous jack-o'-Lanterns caper And the wind won't wait for midnight For fun to blow doors down. By the river and the railroad With fluid far-off going Boundaries bind unbinding A whirl of whistles blowing. No trains or steamboats going-- Yet Leontyne's unpacking. In the Quarter of the Negroes Where the doorknob lets in Lieder More than German ever bore, Her yesterday past grandpa-- Not of her own doing-- In a pot of collard greens Is gently stewing. Pushcarts fold and unfold In a supermarket sea. And we better find out, mama, Where is the colored laundromat Since we move dup to Mount Vernon. In the pot behind the paper doors on the old iron stove what's cooking? What's smelling, Leontyne? Lieder, lovely Lieder And a leaf of collard green. Lovely Lieder, Leontyne. You know, right at Christmas They asked me if my blackness, Would it rub off? I said, Ask your mama. Dreams and nightmares! Nightmares, dreams, oh! Dreaming that the Negroes Of the South have taken over-- Voted all the Dixiecrats Right out of power-- Comes the COLORED HOUR: Martin Luther King is Governor of Georgia, Dr. Rufus Clement his Chief Adviser, A. Philip Randolph the High Grand Worthy. In white pillared mansions Sitting on their wide verandas, Wealthy Negroes have white servants, White sharecroppers work the black plantations, And colored children have white mammies: Mammy Faubus Mammy Eastland Mammy Wallace Dear, dear darling old white mammies-- Sometimes even buried with our family. Dear old Mammy Faubus! Culture, they say, is a two-way street: Hand me my mint julep, mammy. Hurry up! Make haste!

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